Throughout the month of August we here at the Sports Script are going to answer the 5 key questions regarding each division in the NFL. We have gotten together 3 of the Sports Script writers Ricky Valero, Matt Wincherauk & Chad Woodroof to answer the questions. These will lead up to the ultimate reveal of everyone’s prediction for the NFL season. Today we look at the NFC West.
1. Which player needs to step up the most this year?
Ricky: Sam Bradford. How good the Rams do in 2013 rests on the shoulders of Bradford. The Rams have surrounded him with weapons that should help him succeed. If he fails to make important strides I think the team may need to look for a QB to bring in for competition in 2014.
Matty W.: Colin Kaepernick: I’m not a huge fan of Kaepernick but I know how talented he is. But this year really hinges on his growth as a quarterback. Everything is there once again for him, it’s up to him to get back to the Super Bowl and end it with a win this time and nothing less for the 49ers.
Chad: Sam Bradford. His offense lost some key players, but gained Tavon Austin. This is the year that Bradford needs to step up and make everyone around him better. That’ll prove that he was worth being picked as high as he was. I was big on Sam coming into the NFL — It’s almost make or break time for Mr. Bradford.
2. Which coach has the most pressure to win this year?
Ricky: Jim Harbaugh: This may just base on the fact he expects to be great. He took this team to the Super Bowl last season and came up short but I look for him to have his team heading in the right direction again this year.
Matty W: Jim Harbaugh: Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the NFL and while I don’t think he would be in danger of losing job any time soon, he suffers from the weight of “Super Bowl or bust”, like Kaepernick. This 49ers team is too good not to get back to the Super Bowl.
Chad: Bruce Arians. Stepping into a new situation, in a division where all the other coaches stepped in and had an IMMEDIATE impact on their teams, Bruce has to win or be extremely competitive at least. He will need to gel with Carson Palmer very well for this to happen. Notably, Arizona has boatloads of defensive talent.
3. Who is the Sleeper player to watch in the division?
Ricky: Daryl Richardson: This guy is can be the next stud RB in St. Louis. If you take out a crappy December (16 carries) he had 82 carries for 451 yards, which comes to an average of 5.5 YPC. He is going to be a big key in Sam Bradford taking this team to the next step.
Matty W: Tavon Austin: I love Austin. He was easily my favorite weapon in this year’s draft, and with Amendola and Jackson gone, he’s going to have to shoulder the weight of the offense on him. He can do everything, so look for the Rams to get him involved in as many plays as possible.
Chad: As I was the only one who even had faith in Russell Wilson and knew who he was, I wish this were August 2012!! For 2013 though, I’m thinking someone on the Rams. Since Tavon Austin really isn’t a sleeper, I’ll go with Daryl Richardson the Running Back. He’s a little undersized, so I have a little concern in his making it through the entire season as the main option. He averaged 4.8 yards a carry on roughly 100 carries last season. His numbers should be good if he can play all 16 games.
4. Which player means the most to their team’s success this year?
Ricky: Russell Wilson: I am not Wilson believer, yet. He can make me a believer this season. I think he is the heart and soul of this team and this team goes as far as he does.
Matty W: Russell Wilson: Wilson had a magical season last year, before falling just short of the Falcons. With Harvin down for a long time, he’s going to have to carry this offense. Lynch is a great back, but I don’t see him being able to replicate his numbers from last year.
Chad: Colin Kaepernick. There is no more Alex Smith in town in case Colin goes down. I still have A LOT of questions on whether he is even legit. He has maybe the best solid rope spiral but I’m not sure how good he is at making reads 3, 4, and 5. If he’s running around all the time there is a high possibility of injury. I doubt the 49ers make it back to the Super Bowl. If they do though, it’ll be because of Colin.
5. How will the division play out?
Ricky: Seattle Seahawks: 11-5 – I have the Seahawks edging out the Niners based on conference record. I think both teams are going to struggle in certain points in their schedule but I see the Seahawks taking the NFC West crown.
San Francisco 49ers: 11-5
St. Louis Rams: 10-6
Arizona Cardinals: 8-8
San Francisco 49ers: Another division crown is in the works for the Niners, despite the loaded Seahawks. This is arguably the toughest division in football, but the 49ers are proven, and most well rounded. But can Kaepernick really lead them to another Super Bowl? They end the season with a record of 13-3.
Seattle Seahawks: 11-5
St. Louis Rams: 6-10
Arizona Cardinals: 6-10
Seattle Seahawks 10-6
St. Louis Rams 10-6
San Francisco 49ers 8-8
Arizona Cardinals 4-12